The last time the Phillies arrived in Miami, they did so without Cliff Lee.
After making 10 starts, and pitching through pain for nearly a month, Lee remained in Philadelphia for an MRI. He was placed on the DL later that night with a left elbow strain.
Lee was with the Phillies when they arrived in Miami on Monday night. On Tuesday, exactly six weeks since he was placed on the DL, Lee threw a simulated game for the second time in five days and was encouraged with his progress.
Lee's next game will likely come in a minor league rehab start. If he needs two such games, Lee would likely rejoin the Phillies after the All-Star break, when he would have three starts before the July 31 trade deadline.
Although major league teams would likely be tentative in trading for 35-year old pitcher (who turns 36 in August) with elbow issues and a $50 million price tag, Lee could become attractive quickly if he looks like the same pitcher who had a 3.18 ERA in his first 10 starts of the 2014 season.
But Lee is unconcerned with the July 31 trade deadline.
"I’ll just cross that bridge when we get there," Lee said. "Right now I just want to get back and pitch and try to win. That’s really it."
But is there any hope on his current team?
After finally showing signs of life on their previous road trip, going 5-2 in Atlanta and St. Louis, the Phillies (36-46) continued their struggles in South Philly, going 2-6 in the last week at Citizens Bank Park. They passed the halfway point of the season on Saturday night; on Sunday, when they lost their fourth game in three days to the Braves, the Phillies fell to 10 games under .500 and 8 games back of the NL East lead.
Is is realistic to think they have another run left in them in the season's final three months?
"I hope so," Lee said. "I hope so. I don’t know how else to look at it. I hope we win. I expect to win. That’s it."
On July 1, Lee was trying to stay optimistic. He's getting closer to making his first major league start in almost two months and he's focused on that, and that alone.
"I’m just excited to be getting close," Lee said. "Hopefully I can help this team win. That's really it. Trades and stuff happen, that’s completely out of my control. There’s no sense even thinking about it."
UPDATED: Prior to Tuesday's game, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Lee is tentatively on tap to begin his minor league rehab assignment by starting for Class A Clearwater on Sunday.